Handling chaos as a Project Manager

Some time ago I was writing a brilliant post about Buying shoes like a project manager and that if we look at our assignments as projects there is a list of simple steps that we can do to ease our task.

Not being in office but at home with a  small Devil and a smaller Trumpet I’ve found myself in big difficulty in some of the ways our life was previously ordered and felt several times that chaos was installing and that I was not coping with it. One evening I stayed in silence and tuned in my own advice: let’s think of this as at a project and manage it.

I had two situations: one regarding myself and one regarding my older son.

The first one is very familiar to anybody that has a Small Trumpet: sleep deprivation, lack of energy and no time to do some of the basic needs for you or the house. My morning daily routine since I can remember is simple: wake up, wash, drink coffee and eat. I like a clean house so that is also a basic need for me, but I do not care about clothes left on the floor. These habits and needs were disrupted because of our new condition and what I did is simple: I made a prioritized list based on important and urgent matters and I applied Divide_et_impera. So, I’ve got the following list:

Daily priorities

  1. Drink water ( Highly important when you are tired and can become dehydrated cause of forgetting this)
  2. Wash teeth and face, apply cream and brush hair ( all equal as importance, to be done in bulk)
  3. Drink coffee
  4. Eat
  5. Take a walk outside with the small kid
  6. Shower ( Yes, this is less important now as the ones above that keep me moving, but it does not mean I am dirty :P)
  7. Read news/blogs/email.
  8. Exercise
  9. …….

House priorities

  1. Water the plants ( this is important and urgent, otherwise they would die, so it is on top of the list)
  2. Wash clothes
  3. Cook
  4. Bathroom cleaning ( Cleaning can be split in two or multiple sections based on Divide_et_impera. Bathroom and kitchen are the places that get most dirty, so they are higher on the list than the rest of the house)
  5. Kitchen cleaning
  6. House cleaning
  7. …….

Once I have established and acknowledged what is most important for me, not being able to reach the bottom of the list comes easier for my mind, so this helped me a lot. Breaking larger activities into smaller pieces is also of help because of the small amounts of free time that you can count on. For example: washing hair can be done separate than shower when you are not sure you have 30 mins of peace, and showering can be more important than cleaning your hair, so easy to pick which will be done.

Based on the same idea: house priorities were split among days: Monday cleaning day, Wednesday watering plants day, Friday cooking for the weekend; so that nothing gets crowded or becomes highly necessary.

You will say that I am crazy and this is like the US Army, but having a system in place gives you and your mind a framework that can be managed, otherwise it feels like there are too many things to be done and no time. You know that Monday is cleaning day, so your mind just ticks and does it. Monday is also picked as a cleaning day for a special reason: weekends are the most messy parts of the week when you have kids, so there is no reason in cleaning the house on Friday or Saturday…

Basically I made a plan taken into concern the Purpose, the Context and the History as I was explaining in Planning made easy 🙂

The second issue we faced was spending too much time in the morning with getting the Small Devil on this way to kindergarten and we had to speed up that process without waking him up too early or breaking the habits he enjoyed.

I’ve looked at what we did in the morning and used the principle of optimisation taken into account the important things for both parties AKA Stakeholder Management :).

This is the morning routine: wake up, hug, hug, kiss, kiss, hug, get in bed and read stories, drink cacao, wash, pick clothes, get dressed and leave for kindergarten. You cannot remove the must-have activities of the kid: hugs, kisses and reading stories, but you can change the must-have activities for you: drink cacao, pick clothes, get dressed and wash. The time wasters are usually my must-haves as they are subject to long debates and discussions, so I did this:

  1. Bought a fancy  cup with a straw so that the cacao can be drinked in the car on the way to the kindergarten
  2. Pick the clothes for the next day together with the kid in the evening.
  3. Pick a story for next morning together with the kid in the evening.

This morning these simple changes saved us almost 20 minutes, so hurray. Hope it works tomorrow too…

No, I am not missing work, I am just using what I’ve learned in office to make my life easy and be able to share this with you 😉